(Stockholm 1862 - Skara 1915)
Signed Eugene jansson in pencil at the lower left.
315 x 685 mm. (12 3/8 x 27 in.) [image]
362 x 753 mm. (14 1/4 x 29 5/8 in.) [sheet]
A closely comparable pastel winter landscape by Jansson, of similar dimensions to the present sheet, appeared at auction in Stockholm in 1999, 2006 and 2009.
Around 1904, however, Jansson confessed to a friend that he wanted to stop painting the nocturnal, atmospheric views of Stockholm that had dominated his output until then, and which had brought him some success. He gave up participating in exhibitions for a number of years, and in the last decade of his life moved away from landscape painting and began instead to produce portraits and figural works, mainly paintings of male nudes. (Apparently, Jansson once told the painter, art collector and patron Prince Eugen Nicolaus, the son of the Swedish King, that he had always wished to be a figure painter, but could not afford the models’ fees.) The artist, who always suffered from poor health, had taken up swimming and winter bathing, and he found new subjects for his paintings in the Swedish Navy’s cold-water bath houses on the island of Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. Using volunteer models from the Navy, he began producing large-scale canvases of young men exercising, performing gymnastics or lifting weights. Perhaps because of the nature of these nude subjects, Jansson did not exhibit them in public until 1907. From 1911 onwards he maintained a studio near the military buildings in Skeppsholmen, and several of his paintings of athletic male nudes were exhibited at the Konstnärsförbundet during the Summer Olympics in Stockholm in 1912. The artist died of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1915, and three years later a commemorative exhibition of his work was held at the Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm.
Although his work was best known for many years only in his native Sweden, in recent years Jansson’s oeuvre has come to wider international attention. A number of his paintings were included in the groundbreaking exhibition Northern Light: Realism and Symbolism in Scandinavian Painting 1880-1910, shown at three American museums between 1982 and 1983, as well as in the exhibition Luminous Modernism: Scandinavian Art Comes to America in New York in 2011-2012, while Jansson was the subject of a monographic exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris in 1999.